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Figurative Language

Literary Tropes

1Figures of SpeechFigurative Language uses words to paint a picture, draw an interesting comparison, or create a poetic effect. For example: His feet were as big as boats.With figurative language we dont really mean what we are saying. ex: Prisoner X: Do you see anyone? Prisoner Y: The coast is clear. ex: Your a personal friend of Tom and Katie? Spill the beans. ex: Im feeling under the weather.

Figurative vs LiteralFigurative language does not mean what it says.My briefcase weighs a tonne. figurative language can also be defined as any deliberate departure from the conventional meaning, order, or construction of words.The opposite of figurative language is literal language.Ex: If something happens literally," says children's author Lemony Snicket, "it actually happens; if something happens figuratively, it feels like it is happening. If you are literally jumping for joy, for instance, it means you are leaping in the air because you are very happy. If you are figuratively jumping for joy, it means you are so happy that you could jump for joy, but are saving your energy for other matters.(The Bad Beginning. Thorndike Press, 2000)

What type of figurative language is being used?

Similes Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get.

A simile is a figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase introduced by like or as."[Lord Emsworth] had mislaid his glasses and without them was as blind, to use his own neat simile, as a bat."(P.G. Wodehouse, Leave It to Psmith, 1923)5More Similes

Shake it, Shake it, like a polaroid picture. (Outkast)"[H]e looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food."(Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely, 1940)"She dealt with moral problems as a cleaver deals with meat."(James Joyce, "The Boarding House")"A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard."(George Orwell, "A Hanging," 1931)


A metaphor is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something important in common. The word metaphor comes from a Greek word meaning to "transfer" or "carry across.Metaphors "carry" meaning from one word, image or idea to another.Unlike similes they do not use like or as.

More Metaphors"Life is a journey. Enjoy the Ride."(Nissan) life/car"Before I met my husband, I'd never fallen in love. I'd stepped in it a few times."(Rita Rudner) love/dog poo"I can mingle with the stars, and throw a party on Mars;I am a prisoner locked up behind Xanax bars."(Lil Wayne, "I Feel Like Dying) prison/xanax Time rushes toward us with its hospital tray of infinitely varied narcotics, even while it is preparing us for its inevitably fatal operation. (Tennessee Williams, The Rose Tattoo) Time

Commercials "Before I met my husband, I'd never fallen in love. I'd stepped in it a few times."(Rita Rudner) : Love is compared to what? "I can mingle with the stars, and throw a party on Mars;I am a prisoner locked up behind Xanax bars.(Lil Wayne, "I Feel Like Dying) metaphor is prison and xanax.

8The Final Difference

"Writers sometimes use similes and metaphors to help create a vivid image in the readers mind A simile compares two things using the word like or as. Ex: Simile: My father grumbles like a bear in the mornings.A metaphor also compares two things, but it does not use the word like or as.Ex: Metaphor: My father is a bear in the mornings.9Practice Using Similes and MetaphorsHere is an exercise that will give you some practice in creating figurative comparisons. For each of the statements below, make up a simile or a metaphor that helps to explain each statement and make it more vivid. If several ideas come to you, jot them all down. When you're done, compare your response to the first sentence with the sample comparisons at the end of the exercise.George has been working at the same automobile factory six days a week, ten hours a day, for the past twelve years.(Use a simile or a metaphor to show how worn out George was feeling.)Katie had been working all day in the summer sun.(Use a simile or a metaphor to show how hot and tired Katie was feeling.)This is Kim Su's first day at college, and she is in the middle of a chaotic morning registration session.(Use a simile or a metaphor to show either how confused Kim feels or how chaotic the entire session is.)Victor spent his entire summer vacation watching quiz shows and soap operas on television.(Use a simile or a metaphor to describe the state of Victor's mind by the end of his vacation.)After all the troubles of the past few weeks, Sandy felt peaceful at last.(Use a simile or a metaphor to describe how peaceful or relieved Sandy was feeling.)

Sample Responses to Sentence #1a. George felt as worn out as the elbows on his work shirt.b. George felt as worn out as an old phonograph record.c. George felt worn out, like an old punching bag.d. George felt as worn out as the rusted Impala that carried him to work every day.e. George felt as worn out as an old joke that was never very funny in the first place.f. George felt worn out and useless--just another broken fan belt, a burst radiator hose, a stripped wing nut, a discharged battery.

10SymbolismA Symbol is something that represents something else.For ex:


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